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Cablevision makes offer to Fox

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 8:45am
Mike Robuck

Hoping to remedy Fox Networks’ blackout of its programming prior to the start of the World Series tonight, Cablevision made an offer early this afternoon.

“In the interest of Cablevision’s 3 million households and our mutual viewers, today we have made a new offer to News Corp. Simply put: We agree to pay the rate Fox charges Time Warner Cable for carriage of WNYW-Fox 5 New York and WTXF-Fox 29 Philadelphia for a period of one year. This is higher than the rate we pay any other New York broadcast station. This solution is in the best interest of not only baseball fans, but of all Cablevision customers and Fox viewers. We look forward to a positive response.”

Over the past few days, News Corp.-owned Fox has chastised Cablevision for spending more time lobbying the Federal Communications Commission and other entities instead of negotiating.

Yesterday, Cablevision asked Federal Communications Commissioner Chairman Julius Genachowski to break the retransmission consent agreement stalemate with Fox. Cablevision President and CEO Jim Dolan wrote a letter asking Genachowski to mediate negotiations in Washington, D.C., with News Corp. chief operating officer Chase Carey.

Fox Networks is carrying the World Series match up between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants, with the first game slated for this evening, but Cablevision’s 3 million subscribers have been without Fox programming since Oct. 16.

Cablevision had previously asked Fox and News Corp. to agree to binding arbitration on a new agreement, but so far the two haven’t shown any inclination to let the FCC or a third party become involved.

In reply to Dolan’s letter, a Fox spokesman said the company wanted Cablevision to return to the “bargaining table and resume constructive negotiations.”

This morning, Cablevision issued another statement: “Cablevision has and will continue to negotiate in good faith,” according to Charles Schueler, Cablevision’s executive vice president of communications. “We are trying to reach a deal that is fair for everyone, including our customers, but there has been absolutely no movement by Fox in their attempts to gain massive fee increases from Cablevision customers to carry broadcast signals that are free over the air.

“The FCC is the government agency charged with protecting television consumers and oversight of broadcast licenses. We do not understand how protecting and interceding on behalf of TV viewers in 3 million blacked-out households in the Northeastern United States does not fall under the FCC's purview. The FCC has the facts, and our customers are demanding that the FCC act.”

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